A World War II Melodrama with Gary Cooper

The Story of Dr. Wassell – YouTube

Everyone is very brave including America’s allies.


Gary Cooper

I’m very fond of Gary Cooper films. “Love in the Afternoon” is one of my all time favorites. It is odd to think that I who have loved the film for more than two decades have now arrived at the same age as Gary Cooper in that film. Here below is that film – http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/FLXUYnBwLXI/

I don’t know whether or not you can work the link. It’s a Chinese web site and they may be suspicious of occidentals.

But back to The Story of Dr. Wassell. Dr. Corydon Wassell was an Arkansan, a very real person not a fictional archetype. The story is full of references to Arkansas including a long soliloquy to Arkansas catfish.  The film is fun to watch but the heroics so incredible as to defy rational belief. Of course, that is to be expected in a wartime film. This is directed by Cecil B. DeMille and carries his trademark taste for complex action sequences. If you are not tolerant of heroism without limits, you probably will find the film ridiculous. An interesting side note is that Wassell was a uncredited advisor on the film and all of the money he was due from the film he donated to charity.

James Pilant

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I Showed the Documentary, Gasland, Today

Films receive a wide variety of responses in the college classroom. The response to Gasland was excellent. The class paid careful attention, had good questions and comments. I knew of the film but did not intend to use it in class. My Tuesday-Thursday class actually asked to see it. So, I read up on it, and it struck me as useful. I’ve shown it in three classes now with the same positive results in each class.

Josh Fox

This is a Josh Fox film. The first time you see it, you are shocked by his story of unregulated drilling of natural gas known as fracking. But is only the second time, you realize the skill of our documentarian. The film never sags. It always keeps the audience engaged. The film is well paced and its plotline beautifully constructed. I’ll be watching for any of his films in the future. It may well be that his work will grow in skill as time goes by.

It is troubling to consider that for most of us, Josh Fox is our only defense against the practice of fracking. Only a handful of states regulate it, and the response of most of officialdom to complaints is basically to drop dead.

You see, an act of Congress relieved the giant energy companies of the need to comply with federal environmental laws. Federal agencies aren’t even allowed to study what the companies are doing. We only have partial knowledge of the chemicals being used, and the very fact that these companies essentially placed themselves outside the law through a compliant Congress raises suspicions of their motives.

I think until strong regulation is enacted to deal with the fracking problem, I will be using the film in class.

Below is a link to the web address for Josh Fox’s film, Gasland.


And here is the link for the trailer.


Here is the link to buy it on Amazon.com.


I recommend it for classroom use at the college level.

James Pilant

Tapwater that ignites.
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Friday Links (via A Thinking Reed)

I love those blog entries that list little teasers connected to links. It’s a sort of internet buffet, a little of this and a little of that. This one has some fun teasers and interesting ideas.

James Pilant

–A challenge to libertarians on the coecivene power of private entities. –A.O. Scott on superhero movies as a Ponzi scheme. –Richard Beck of Experimental Theology on why he blogs. –A political typology quiz from the Pew Research Center. (I scored as a “solid libera.l” Although I’d take issue with the way some of the choices were presented.) –An end to “bad guys.” –Def Leppard’s Hysteria and the changing meaning of having a “number 1” album. … Read More

via A Thinking Reed

What’s Ethical At The Cinema?

David Gushee has some thoughts. He analyzes several recent movies for their virtuous elements. Here’s his view of True Grit

True Grit is certainly the only movie in living memory that starts with a biblical quotation and has a musical score drawn from old Baptist hymns like “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” This Western of fierce retribution and family honor is indeed one of the most explicitly religious major films in a long time. (If you leave out the Left Behind movies, or anything with Kirk Cameron in it.)

But this is a religiosity of law and retribution, of wrath and justice. This is eye-for-eye religion; it’s about the price in blood and sweat and risk one is obligated to pay to avenge the unjust death of a loved one. True Grit teaches the virtues of, well, true grit, courage and toughness and unflinching justice. And yet the score hits grace notes in the margins, perhaps a reminder that frontier religion mixed justice in the street with grace in the sanctuary, a paradigm that is still with us.

I have a passion for movies. Last night, my wife and I watched I Hate Valentine’s Day, a romantic comedy. The film carried no great moral weight. It was sweet and funny. I can work with that. Not to mention the fact, that while I am watching a Korean film like Cyborg She, my wife is dozing in the background. So, fnding common film ground is important if she is to remain conscious or not flee the room.

I Hate Valentine’s Day

Cyborg She

I try to watch at least one film a night. I don’t manage it as often as I like.

Many films are just entertainment. But the great films like Ikiru, The Seven Samurai, The Apartment, Lawrence of Arabia, etc. often carry a great deal of moral weight.

Movies tend to bypass our analytical abilities and go straight to our emotions and unconscious. Sending moral and ethical messages more or less unconsciously has serious ethical implications. Nevertheless, since it is already a common practice, using this unconscious loading factor we can manipulate our own morality and the morality of others through film choices.

James Pilant